KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment is fully supportive, especially in fostering an expanded and enhanced Malaysia International Travel Mart (MITM Travel Fair) the next time around, says Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
Speaking at the opening of the MITM Travel Fair, Sabah Chapter, organised by the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA), Sabah Chapter at Suria Sabah, recently, she said she anticipated future partnerships with the Association, given its contributions to Sabah’s dynamic tourism landscape.
“Should the need arise for assistance from my Minister or should any innovative notions surface, I extend an open invitation to connect. Rest assured, to the best of my abilities, I will be ready to provide assistance whenever required.
“May this MITM be a catalyst for new beginnings, meaningful partnerships, and a brighter future for all stakeholders in the tourism industry,” she said.
Liew was impressed with MCTA’s emergence from over two years of grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that the wheels of the tourism industry have begun to turn anew, igniting hope for an economic resurgence. “This MITM Travel Fair stands as a testament to the resilience of the tourism sector.”
There were 48 booths with exhibitors from as far as Taiwan, Penang, Selangor, Perak, Johor, Sarawak and Labuan, and from as near as Tenom, Tambunan, Ranau, Kota Belud, Kiulu, Papar, Penampang and Klias. Other participants included the Malaysia Aviation Group(MAG), comprising Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and MASwings.
From the Minister’s observation, since March 2022, a transformative shift has occurred as MTCA anchored a noteworthy Business-to-Business (B2B) networking event, supported by the Sabah Tourism Board (STB).
Collaboratively, the Sabah Chapter pooled its resources with MCTA’s seven other counterparts across Malaysia, ushering in 65 agencies for a concerted exploration, which has paid off, according to Liew.
This unity, she said, paved the way for a revitalisation, resulting in the arrival of 8,000 inbound tourists between April and December 2022, whereby this upturn extended its benefits to several sectors, such as hospitality, aviation, culinary endeavour, local attractions, transportation services, and generated job opportunities.
“We hope this good culture of collaboration will continue indefinitely, creating a cycle where Sabah benefits from your support and in return, we showcase the tourism gems of each state,” she added.
Earlier, the Life Honorary President of the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA) cum Adviser of MCTA, Dato’ Albert Tan said the success of the MITM Travel Fair 2023 depended on the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and airlines.
“We (MCTA) are fortunate to have a supportive minister who supported us in 2019. I first met you (Liew) when you came to officiate at our travel fair that year at the Karamunsing Complex, and today, you are again with us,” he said.
In his address, Organising Chairman Jimmy Wong Kui Hiung recalled having a fruitful dialogue with the Minister, earlier.
“As always, she is all ears and listens. Not only did she listen, but more importantly she took steps to resolve some of the issues raised by our Sabah Chapter. For this, we salute you (Datuk), Christina,” he said.
Wong also thanked STB, particularly the Chief Executive Officer Noredah Othman and her Deputy Tay Shu Lan, for having supported MCTA’s participation in the MITM Travel Fair in Penang and Kuala Lumpur. “In addition, our members were invited to join STB’s marketing trips overseas to bring in more visitors to Sabah.”
He said the MITM Travel Fair has made a comeback after an absence of four years, adding “We are learning to walk again in the process of recovery, and by next year, we will surely be running.”
Also present were MCTA Sabah Chapter Chairman Vincent Sia and its Adviser Lawrence Wong.
Photo : Liew (centre) leads the organisers and STB officials in giving the thumbs-up sign. Flanking her are Tan (on her left) and Sia. On Tan’s left is OC Jimmy.